It’s Time To Let Donald Trump Be The Poster Boy For Rape Culture

“I’ve gotta use some tic tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Donald Trump says….“And when you’re a star they let you do it,”…“Grab them by the p***y,” Donald Trump says. “You can do anything.”

Like so many of us, Donald Trump’s statement made my stomach churn. It made my mouth drop open – not in surprise that he said it (because women hear this all the time) but in shock that he got caught.

Getting caught just isn’t a thing that happens to men like him.

It’s time to let Donald Trump be the poster boy for rape culture.

Last year in my 8th-grade classroom, though, I caught one. He was one of those quiet-yet-aggressive boys. He wanted everyone to think it was someone else’s fault. He wanted to blame other people for his actions and used his juvenile logic to excuse any poor choice in behavior as being because the other person ‘didn’t like him’.

The problem is, when he grabbed a girl’s p***y right in front of me, he got caught. And boy, did he choose the wrong person to get caught by.

I yelled – and everyone got quiet. Shaking, I  sent him outside. I couldn’t look at him. My head flashed back to all sorts of times when boys/men have grabbed/yelled/fondled/brushed against/pushed/rubbed/ground themselves against me or other women.

I thought I was going to get sick. And then it got worse.

The girl – the victim – seemed oblivious. She told me it was nothing, that it was OK. That he was a friend.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing come out of this 13-year-old girl’s mouth. She was condoning rape culture before she even knew what it meant. She thought it was acceptable to be grabbed in the ass, to have her pussy reached for and owned by another 13-year-old boy.

I went ‘all mamawolfe’, as my students have tagged me, and told her why it was #notokay. How what he did was a sexual act of violence, even if he AND she claim it was nothing. I told her about how she owns her body, and no one EVER has the right to touch/grab/fondle her without her explicit consent.

I was trembling, and I was scared.

I think I scared her, too.

I could see other students straining to hear our conversation, despite my attempts at privacy. That’s not easy in a classroom full of kids. In all honesty, I wanted to stop everything and have this discussion straight up with my 8th graders. I wanted to call it out, to shout out that ‘grabbing ass’ is not EVER OK. I wanted to teach them right then that all people deserve to have personal space around their body until they INVITE someone in.

But you see, I’m just a teacher – not a parent. And yes, this was most definitely a teachable moment. And yes, my female student got my message. How could she not – just looking at the tears in my eyes, and hearing the tone of my voice, and seeing the shake of my hands, she got it.

And the boy – the perpetrator? He got it, too. He got told about sexual harassment. He got a call to his mother. He got to ‘apologize’, and then he got to come back to school just like every other day.

I wonder, though, if he’s watching the news now. I wonder if he sees how just because he’s a man he cannot and should not grab anyone’s pussy, EVER.

I wonder if he gets that he’s part of rape culture in America.

And the girl? I got to contact her mom and tell her exactly what happened and what I said to her daughter. It made me nervous, to be sure. Exposing this disgusting yet all-too-real aspect of femininity doesn’t feel like my job as a middle school teacher. But when this happens right in front of me, I realize it’s precisely my job.

It’s time to stop hiding behind ‘it’s OK:. It’s time to let Donald Trump be the poster boy for rape culture, misogyny, body shaming, and derogatory language about women.

Let’s find a silver lining around all this shameful behavior. Let’s use this as a chance to teach our children – to REMIND our children that this isn’t just a women’s issue – that this is a HUMAN issue. Let’s let this painful political season end on a note of hope – that somehow, this nasty and vile and disgusting little secret that all women have been hiding is real, and it needs to stop.

It’s happened to me more times than I can remember.

It’s happened to my friends, my sisters, and probably even my mother and grandmothers. Just look at how many women are feeling empowered to share their story now.

I hope it hasn’t happened to my 20-year-old daughter.

I fear it has.

Girls, you are not damaged. You are not to blame. You are strong and beautiful and real and smart and you need to know this is not okay. This is not how you should be treated, and don’t ever settle for someone who makes you feel like a victim. This is not locker room talk, it is not office talk, and it is not acceptable. Real men don’t grab p***y because they can.

Real men make you feel loved.

 

http://www.overshopping.com

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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My Little Girl Got A Real Job

“Sweetie, I just wanted you to wake up and know how proud I am of you. You took a big step, a big risk, and it paid off with a new adventure! You are so awesome!” read the text that I sent my little girl last week. We live in different states, different time zones now, and as any parent-of-teenagers know, the way to their attention is through a text, not a phone call.

I was just so proud I could burst, so texting seemed like my only release valve.

“Thanks, Mom,” she eventually replied. Not exactly the enthusiasm I was hoping for, but at least, I got some contact across the miles.

This text was during the aftermath of some particularly crappy, devastating weeks in our ski community, and having my little girl so far away was leaving me feeling raw and vulnerable. I wanted her close enough to hug. I wanted to hold her hand and look into her eyes and know that she was going to be OK. Her news that her college advisor had recommended her for her first ‘real’ paid internship was a bright light in the darkness – and it left my little girl feeling worried about her first job interview.

Do you remember that queasy feeling before you stepped into the adult world? Do you remember your heart pounding, wondering what will you say, and will you have the right answers? Did your hands start to tremble when you walked in the door, wondering if they’ll try to stump you or quiz you or just stare blindly until you want to scream for mercy and run out of the room?

Clearly, I’ve had some nerve-wracking interviews in my time…

But I knew this job was perfect for her – working at the Alumni House of her college, doing print and graphics and creating and managing events. Yes, she’s just starting her Communications major and yes, she is on the edge of a huge learning curve, but she met all the requirements (knowledge of InDesign, Photoshop) and has a smile that can make people forget their worries – I told her to go for it.

She listened to her mama.

When she was close enough to hug.
When she was close enough to hug.

All the memories of my nineteen-year-old self came flooding back – that time in March 1985 when life was shifting and I needed to find a job for my green-haired alternative self, and I walked into a cafe and convinced them I could make a cappuccino…and somehow, rose to the spot of manager. That job, back when I was 19 and so unsure of my future, made all the difference to my future; not because I ended up running a cafe, but because when I knew someone believed in me, I believed in myself.

Of course, as her mom, I was convinced that she was perfect for the job. I just needed to convince HER that she was perfect.

Enter the marathon texting conversations, mix in a few ‘live’ calls, and next thing I knew, she was done with her interview (I told her NOT to wear jeans – is that old school of me?) and to let them know she was bilingual (thank you, Spanish Immersion) and to smile, be friendly, and above all, be honest.

Basically, show her  she just needed to let her awesomeness shine.

After a stressful weekend creating their ‘test’ assignment, convincing her that she knew what she was going, sending a ‘thank you for interviewing me’ email (people still do that, right?), she crossed her fingers….and got the job! Starting immediately – year round.

Wait – what?

So this is what happens when your college kid suddenly finds herself in real life, with a real job, living 650 miles away from home.

My little girl got a real job. She’s creating an adult life, and even though I’m not right there, close enough to hug, I can text and emoji with the best of them.

But most of all, I can stand back and watch, smile, and see my pride ooze out of every pore of my being.

It’s not easy having your little girl move away from home, but sometimes it feels like she’s going to be just fine on her own.

Congratulations, baby Wolfe. Once again, you make your mama proud.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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My Favorite Moments of 2015-A Year In Photos

I love the new year. Not because I’m a big one on resolutions (I’m definitely anti-declaration in that way). And not because I like to whoop it up on New Year’s Eve (I don’t – I was in bed by 10 p.m.). And I love photos – not because I’m any sort of skilled photographer, but because I love the moments they capture.

And certainly not because I love endings and change and the unknown (not.not.not.).

But I do love the new year because I adore reflecting on memories. I love stories. I’m sentimental that way.

I’m a huge creator of photo albums and memory boxes – at least, I used to be, before I got a digital camera.

Now my photos are stored all over the place – my phone, my computer, the cloud, Google Drive – and I need to do a serious project to get them organized.

Wow – that sounds almost like a resolution. *shudder*

To start, I searched up each month of photos that I could, and want to share my favorites here. Not because they’re terribly technically good photos, but because, for me, they tell a story of 2015: what happened, where I went, and who I loved.

And that will have to do for now.

JANUARY 2015

no cast

This was in the orthopedist’s office – it was the first time C had seen his leg outside of his cast since he broke it on the ski course. I love the look on his face and the fact that he wore his “Bomber” shirt that day – sigh.

FEBRUARY 2015

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While most days I dislike the fact that my daughter moved to Utah to go to college, when her photographer boyfriend sends me these shots, I can’t help but smile. Can you see her face? She’s loving life. What more can I ask for?

MARCH 2015

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I love the blurriness of this shot-it’s so representative of how life was (is?) feeling in this moment. I love that C is on his skateboard after months of being in a cast (wait -really?). I love that he hasn’t lost his confidence and that our dog follows him everywhere. A boy and his dog. And his skateboard. *sigh*

APRIL 2015

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Being a part of Listen To Your Mother seemed like an elusive writing goal – although motherhood tips the topic list of my blog, it took a huge leap of faith for me to actually submit my writing. My smile represents my joy at being chosen, at doing something that made me nervous, and the accomplishment I felt when I was done. And this photo also reminds me how short I am.

MAY 2015

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My girl and her dog along the trail at Five Lakes. It’s near Alpine Meadows, where we spend the winters skiing. If I was in this photo, my smile would fill the frame – this was the first time I’d seen L since Christmas, and I couldn’t get enough of her. This adventure, hiking with her and her boyfriend and our pup, was one of those perfect moments that I appreciate so much more now that she doesn’t live with me anymore.

JUNE 2015

selfie free summer

A day trip to Point Reyes, CA, was one of the first things we did when L came home (briefly) in June before she left to work in Oregon for the summer. My boy was still not 100% on his now-healed leg, and yet he made it down to the coast with his camera. Can you feel my heart bursting here? I assure you, it was.

JULY 2015

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NYC subway with one of my oldest girlfriends taking the snap. I’d never been there, never ridden the hot, steamy, sweaty, crowded subway, so I insisted she capture the moment. I’d just finished attending BlogHer16 (awesome) and was spending my last few days seeing the sights. I may not look like I’m 18 years old in this image, but I sure felt like it.

AUGUST 2015

Utah hiking

I can’t remember the name of this lake in Utah but I do remember the moment. C and I had driven L back to school and she and her boyfriend took us up into the mountains of Alta where they ski during the winter. I was pretty happy I kept up with the youngsters (elevation and all), but mostly, I felt the joy a mother feels when her babies are by her side, happy and healthy and loving life. I’m not sharing the photos I took the next day when I left her there and had to drive home…

SEPTEMBER 2015

sixteen

My boy turned 16. What I love about this photo is how much he’s changed, yet how he’s stayed the same. He didn’t want a ‘sweet 16’ party like my girl did, so I dug out an old cake photo to contrast with where he is today – the fact that his broken leg healed, he was able to skim board in Carmel and is growing into such a determined, kind human….I’m a proud mamawolfe.

OCTOBER 2015

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An Instagram screen shot of L and her boyfriend hiking in Utah. What mom wouldn’t be proud to see her daughter in love like this?

NOVEMBER 2015

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Even though I turned 50 in December, and even though I did NOT want a party, my mom did it anyways. The day after Thanksgiving, before L went back to college, and when my extended family was still in town, we celebrated. And I’m glad. I chose this photo because it is a rare moment when I am in a shot with both of my parents – they divorced when I was a teen and are rarely seen together. I love this because it reminds me what parents will do for their children and that I’m getting old. Older, but better. Definitely better.

DECEMBER 2015

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I love the holidays, but they overwhelm me. Too much going on, too many people, and I’m usually exhausted from teaching during those crazy December days leading up to the break. But here, on Christmas Eve at my dad’s house, this photo made it all worthwhile. My babies. My boy (with a concussion 🙁 – can you see his hospital bracelet?) and my girl, my best life’s work. What makes me mamawolfe.

Here’s to 2016, a year for more photos, more adventures, and more writing about thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. A year for trusting the journey.

That’s one resolution I can keep.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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It’s The Last Day of School – So Why Aren’t My Students Leaving?

It’s always a minimum day schedule on the last day of school, making it super hard to get anything done (yes, they want us to teach up until the last bell), as well as to have a moment to breathe, to be present, to process what is going on.

The last day of school is about both endings and beginnings. It’s a celebration and a sniffle of what we’re leaving behind. It’s more than just hurry up, get inside, close the door, sign yearbooks and you’re off.

For me, the end of the school year is bittersweet. Even after 25 years of teaching middle school, I still have yet to leave the last day dry-eyed.

My classroom starts to feel like my home away from home, I guess.

Some years it’s worse than others. I’ve had years where the tears flowed from before the first bell even rang, until long after the kids (or most of them) left for their summer vacation.

This year was both usual and unusual.

This year the tears started at home, in my bathroom, when my friend Estherlyn texted me this photo of our boys at the end of 6th grade:

ready for 7th grade!

They were full of excitement, ready to tackle the adventure of ‘junior high’ for the next three years.

And now, three years later, my tears came as I thought of all the happiness, disappointment, joy, laughter and growth they’ve experienced. I thought of the classes and report cards and homework, the basketball games, the sleepovers and dances and the lunches in my room. I thought about how they’ve managed to stay close, and how much I would miss their faces next September.

And I thought of how they’ve grown in to young men and are so ready for 10th grade.

Not a great way to start a frantic day of goodbyes and thank yous.

I made it through most of my classes-they moved too fast to allow myself to sink into sadness. We had papers to collect, “The Diary of Anne Frank” to finish watching (yes, I do end the year with the Holocaust-but remember, Anne says, “No matter what, I still believe people are good at heart.” It’s uplifting, really).

I made it through the start of each class, thanking them for this community and for doing their best. I reminded my ‘kids’ of how hard they’ve worked, how their struggles have turned them into strong thinkers and readers and writers, and assured them that they were well prepared and ready for high school.

I think they believed me. I meant every word I said.

Except they don’t know the real reason I show a sad movie on the last day is another teacher trick for hiding my tears.

I received some beautiful notes and thank yous, some cookies and  gift cards and hugs. I could feel the tears right there, but I was holding it together. Bell rings, we talk, we watch, bell rings, they go. It’s like a well oiled machine.

And then the last period of the day was upon me, my struggling readers who I’ve encouraged and cheered and danced with (can you do the nae-nae? I can!) and  read with and tried to help them get to grade level. These kids hold such a special place in my heart. The tears are close…but in this class, we must celebrate! Cue Selena and dance!

And then suddenly the 9th graders started streaming in from the room across the hall. Kids I’d known since kindergarten, when their hair was neatly combed and backpacks proudly balanced on their shoulders. Kids that had spent the last three years eating lunch in my room, loving having a place to call ‘home’.

teacher thank you cards

They handed me a thank you card, and I made the mistake of opening it in front of them. You see, when teachers don’t open gifts in front of their students there’s a reason – it makes them cry. And it’s usually an ugly cry, and the kids usually don’t know what to do.

Cue ugly cry.

The card said ‘thanks for always letting us stay in your room (or at your house)’ and ‘you’re like a second mom to me’ and ‘without you our lunches wouldn’t have been nowhere near as great as they were’.

I honestly had no idea it meant so much to them.

And somewhere in there the last bell rang, we watched them stream out into summer and I closed the door on the last day of school. The quiet was eerie. The room was a mess. I breathed deeply.

And the door burst open.

A line of 11 gangly, sweaty, smiling 9th graders entered one by one, big arms wrapping around me. The tears streamed all over again with loose abandon. There was no card or cookies, just huge, grateful smiles covering up a bit of nervousness, as one by one they piled in and said thanks, my son at the end of the line.

“Thanks for having such great friends, Cam,” I whispered as he hugged me, his head towering over mine.

The next thing I knew it was lollipops and selfies and sharing moments from the last three years.

9th grade selfie

They didn’t leave. I didn’t want them to leave. None of us quite knew what to do. I wondered if they knew how much they mean to me – how much joy they brought when they were tiny little 7th graders watching the big kids with wonder in their eyes. Do they know the joy I felt when Cam was away at boarding school in 8th grade, and they still came to my room every day? I wonder if they felt the gratitude I had each lunchtime when they would flop their big 9th grade bodies on my beanbags, pull out their food and homework and Tech Decks and just be themselves?

And suddenly, the hugs started again. The tears, the smiles, the joy oozing up from inside.

The last day of school isn’t only the final day of classes – it’s the final day of this community, this place of being together. This home away from home.

This is why I teach. This is why I’ll be back again next year.

This is why they call me mamawolfe.

last day of school - mamawolfe

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Parenting Athletes, Working Moms, and Searching for Inspiration

I’m coming up on the four year mark with mamawolfe – that’s a lot of stories, thoughts and reflections I’ve shared with you!

This week, I’ve been re-publishing some past essays on several different websites – not only can you catch up with mamawolfe, but you will find new writers with wonderful stories to tell, too.

One of my favorite pieces from last year’s ski racing season – Thanks, Coach, For Helping My Girl Grow Stronger –  is up on Ten To Twenty Parenting:

On Midlife Boulevard, I’m sharing a piece I wrote about feeling uncentered, and looking for inspiration – “Finding My Muse: Searching In Tahoe Snow and Pine Trees”.

And I’m featured for the first time on Everyday Windshield with my story about going back to work after becoming a mom – click over and read “Moms At Work” – they’ve added one of my all time favorite photos of me and my babies, too.

Thank you for your ongoing support – it means everything to me.

~Jennifer

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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